How do I start? What do I say? When do I say it? Sex education has thankfully changed since we were kids. You simply cannot do sex education with a big one-off talk even if you think you have covered everything. Today it is about lots of small, frequent, repetitive conversations with your child. So why do you need to talk to your kids about all this stuff? Firstly, your kids are going to hear about sex, from their friends, from surfing the internet, and by watching the television.
By getting in first, you are making sure that they receive the right information and more importantly, that they know how you feel about it.
Secondly, is that you are actually influencing what your kids will one day do about sex. Kids that receive good sex education are more likely to delay having sex and when they do start, they are more likely to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections.
Here you will find an outline of the different things about sex that kids eventually need to know about. The topics and ages are just a guide, and are based on what we know about child sexual development, and in keeping our kids healthy and safe in our world today.
Babies and toddlers months The names of their body parts- yes, the penis and vulva too! That it is okay to touch all parts of their body — let them grab their vulva or penis at bath time or during nappy changes. Start pointing out the differences between boys and girls — boys have penises and girls have vulvas. The support they need. It is really just about letting your child explore their whole body and to start pointing out simple differences between boys and girls.
The end goal is for your child to be comfortable with their whole body and to see all parts as being equal with no shame. Early childhood years Our bodies The correct names of the body parts and what they do. That our bodies are different and that is okay to be different. That our bodies can tell us what we are feeling — we have many different feelings and we can feel them in our body.
That there are private and public places and times — this one is a tricky one for kids to learn as it changes. For example, it might be okay for your child to be naked at home when their grandmother is visiting but not the plumber!
For example, if the bathroom door is closed, that they should knock and ask if they can come in. That they are entitled to privacy too — like when they go to the toilet, are in the bath or getting dressed. That conversations about bodies are for private times at home and with their parents not in the school yard. Touching ourselves That it is okay to touch their penis or vulva but that there is a time and a place for it. Set limits around genital play. Explain that touching your own genitals can feel good but that it is a private activity, like toileting, and it should happen in a private place, like in their bedroom.
If your child grabs their genitals when they are out socially, gently remind them that they need to keep their hands out of their pants. Eventually they will outgrow it! Later on, you can discuss privacy and rules about touching. Babies That all living things reproduce- trees drop seeds, dogs have puppies and humans have babies. Slowly start pointing out examples of reproduction when you see it. Both a man and a woman are needed to make a baby.
How a baby is made — that you need a part from a man cell or sperm and a part from a woman cell or egg to make a baby. That a baby grows inside a woman. Keep it super simple — they only want basic concepts. The details come much later. That making babies is for adults and not for kids to do.
Get into the habit of reminding them of this, every time you talk about it. Body ownership and touching That they are the boss of their body and have a right to say who can touch their body you included.
That sometimes there are reasons for an adult to look at or touch their body, like a doctor or nurse. Secrets can be about surprises and presents. That they can always tell you about anything that makes them feel bad or funny. The support they need Preschoolers are the easiest age to teach. They are like empty sponges, ready to soak up information about anything and everything. You want to set yourself as their number one source for information.
This means being honest and answering their questions about babies. By answering, you are giving your child the message that they can talk to you about anything and that you are a reliable source for information. This is a good thing, especially once they start to have contact with other kids. If you are struggling with the words to use, there are some fantastic sex education books that you can use.
They provide the information and are written in an age-appropriate way. Middle childhood years Our bodies Know what words to use when talking about body parts both boys and girls — penis, testicles, scrotum, anus, vulva, labia, vagina, clitoris, uterus and ovaries. To have some knowledge of the internal reproductive organs — uterus, ovary, fallopian tubes, urethra, bladder, bowel. That bodies come in all different shapes, sizes and colours.
Both boys and girls have body parts that may feel good when touched. To be able to look after their own body i. Puberty That their bodies will change as they get older. That puberty is a time of physical and emotional change. If they want to know what changes, just talk about how this is the stage where they grow into an adult.
They then find their way to the place where the egg is. The egg and the sperm then join together, and grow into a baby. That adults often kiss, hug, touch and engage in other sexual behaviours with one another to show caring for each other and to feel good.
That sex is an adult activity and is not for kids. That adults can choose whether or not to have a baby. That all sexual behaviour is private i. That bodies can feel good when touched. That sometimes people look at pictures of naked people or people having sex on the internet and this is not for kids.
You also need to discuss with your child what they should do when not if they come across these images. Explain that there are different sexual orientations such as heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual.
Love Love means having deep and warm feelings for yourself and others. People can experience different types of love. People express love in different ways to their parents, families and friends. Dating is when two people are romantically attracted to each other and spend their free time together.
Dating starts as a teen. People can experience different loving relationships throughout their lives. Friendships You can have many friends or just a few. You can have different types of friends. Friends can be angry with each other and still be friends. Friends spend time together and get to know each other. Friendships depend on honesty. Friends can be older or younger, male or female.
Families There are different types of families. Families can change over time. Every member has something unique to contribute. Family members take care of each other.
Families have rules to help them live together. Members of a family can live in different places and still be a family. Personal skills Everyone has rights, kids too. People communicate in many different ways. It is okay to ask for help. Start practicing decision making around the home. All decisions have consequences — positive and negative. Practice negotiation skills to resolve a problem or conflict. There is a big difference between what a 5-year-old and an 8-year-old needs to know — as they get older, you need to give them more details and repeat yourself a lot more!
Try to answer their questions as honestly and matter-of-factly as possible. Check that they have understood what you have said and to see if they have any more questions.